30th January 2019
MALTA-BASED ONLINE GAMBLING OPERATOR BETWAY UNDER SCRUTINY OVER PANAMA PAPERS
The Times of Malta on 29th January reported that Betway is being subjected to rigorous scrutiny by the Belgian Gaming Commission for its operations in Belgium following an investigation connected to the Panama Papers. A probe was launched in 2017 after the company’s was mentioned in the Panama Papers, which detailed an opaque corporate structure of companies looking to minimise tax obligations in various countries.
PARAGUAY’S UNDERGROUND ECONOMY
World Finance on 30th January reported that illegal transactions can contribute as much as 40% of the country’s GDP. The distribution of wealth is very unequal: 80% of land is held by 2.5% of the population, and 161 people control 90% of the wealth of the country. Paraguay remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America. It ranks 4th in terms of extreme poverty, after Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua, according to a 2016 ECLAC report. While the official unemployment rate hovers at around 19%, only 5.34% of Paraguayans are fully employed. Due to the country’s reliance on agriculture, many people work in the informal sector. Tobacco smuggling is the most lucrative business in Paraguay. The article concludes that the trade of illicit goods cannot be blamed entirely on one country and both Paraguay and Brazil will need to work together if they are going to tackle the issue – but as long as political corruption exists on both sides of the border, the illegal economy will continue to flourish.
GUERNSEY SEEKS REGULATORY CERTAINTY ON APPLICATION OF ELECTRONIC CDD
International Investment on 29th January reported that a Guernsey FSC spokesperson outlined an approach to provide greater regulatory reassurance in the application of electronic customer due diligence (CDD). It says that the lodging of the Electronic Transactions (Electronic Agents) (Guernsey), 2019 Ordinance earlier this month in the island offers greater certainty as the use of artificial intelligence and distributed ledger technology grows. It says it will boost confidence and enable adopters of technology solutions to use Guernsey.
ILLICIT MONEY GUSHING OUT OF BANGLADESH
On 30th January, the Asia Times reported that as much as $81.74 billion was siphoned off the country in 2006-2015, according to a study by research NGO Global Financial Integrity. The money is said to have been drained out through over-invoicing in imports and under-invoicing in exports, a common but illegal accounting technique which in many countries deprives governments of huge amounts of revenue. It is estimated that 17.5% of Bangladesh’s total trade worth $33.7 billion with “advanced economies”, was laundered in 2015.
MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORISM FINANCING STATISTICS FOR WEST AFRICA SHOW A DROP
Punch in Nigeria on 30th January reported that the Inter-Governmental Action against Money Laundering and Terrorists Financing in West Africa, an organ of the regional body ECOWAS, claims to have observed a reduction in terror financing and money laundering activities among member countries of the Economic Community of West African States in 2018. The body was established in 2000 to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. It has also embarked on mutual evaluation of more West African countries, including Senegal, Cape Verde and Burkina Faso.
DENMARK PROPOSES TOUGHENING OF AML CONTROLS
On 30th January, Payments Compliance reported that the Danish FSA had issued 23 proposals on 29th January aimed at improving AML controls in the wake of the Danske Bank scandal.
PODCAST: THE OIL-FOR-FOOD SCHEME
In the latest TRACE podcast, David Montero discusses his new book “Kickback” and tells the story of how Saddam Hussein found collaborators willing to help him thwart the purpose of the UN Oil-for-food programme and prop up his thuggish regime.
UK: TAX AVOIDANCE AND TAX EVASION
On 30th January, the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper which provides an introduction to the issue of tax avoidance, looking in detail at the development of follower notices and accelerated payments, before discussing the current UK Government’s approach, including the introduction of the 2019 Loan Charge.
TRIAL DATE SET FOR FORMER PANAMA PRESIDENT
Kenneth Rijock on 30th January reported that the trial of former President Martinelli of Panama has been set for 12th March. He faces charges of corruption and for illegally conducting audio and video surveillance of some of Panama’s most prominent citizens, and had to be extradited back from the US to face trial.
SLOVAKIA: PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES PRESIDENT’S VETO OVER GAMBLING LAW
Calvin Ayre on 30th January reported that Slovakia’s online gambling liberalisation is back on schedule after legislators overrode the veto of the country’s President. Amongst the provisions in the Bill is one ending the state online gambling monopoly. But the state operator will retain its monopoly over online lotteries, bingo and raffles with online casino and sports betting products will now be open to competition.
BETFAIR PULLS OUT OF INDIA AFTER BEING PUBLICLY ATTACKED
Calvin Ayre on 30th January reported that online gambling operator Betfair is not taking bets from India after being publicly called out for flouting local laws. A letter from the All India Gaming Federation accused 9 online gambling websites, including 1xbet, Bet365 and other familiar faces of “luring and accepting bets from Indian citizens” without local authorisation.
SAUDI ARABIA CHARGES 126 WITH CORRUPTION
On 30th January, OCCRP reported that Saudi authorities charged 126 local government employees across the country with corruption, abuse of power and other crimes as part of a controversial anti-corruption campaign that started in 2017.
GERMAN MP DISCIPLINED FOR ROLE IN AZERBAIJANI LAUNDROMAT
OCCRP on 30th January reported that on January 18th, the German parliament ruled that Karin Strenz, an MP from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic party (CDU), broke parliamentary rules on declaring external income by failing to disclose money and gifts she received from Azerbaijani lobbyists.
UK: MINOR OFFENCES MAY STAY SECRET AFTER LEGAL CHALLENGE FAILS
The Guardian reported on 30th January that people given police cautions or reprimands as children or those convicted of multiple minor offences may not have to disclose them in future after the government lost a legal challenge in the Supreme Court to the criminal record checks system. The Court rejected 3 of the appeals by the Home Office over the issue of whether those who were found guilty of lesser offences or cautions need to disclose them when seeking employment involving contact with children and vulnerable adults.
SIERRA LEONE OPENS GRAFT PROBE INTO ACTIONS OF PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT
Baker McKenzie reported on 30th January that the government of Sierra Leone has tasked a special commission with investigating allegations of widespread corruption and abuse of office under the previous administration.
US CUSTOMS SEIZE NEARLY $1 MILLION CASH AT MEXICAN BORDER
On 30th January, Homeland Preparedness reported that US Customs and Border Protection officers at Juarez-Lincoln Bridge, between Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, seized $988,550 in unreported currency. The funds were discovered during a physical examination of a 2010 Nissan Maxima driven by a 20-year-old female US citizen, and hidden inside the vehicle was 53 bundles of currency.
GERMANY, FRANCE AND 8 OTHERS FAIL TO FULLY TRANSPOSE EU 4TH AML DIRECTIVE
On 30th January, KYC 360 reported that the European Commission has written to authorities in Germany and France, as well as 8 other Member States, for failing to completely transpose the Directive into national laws. The Directive was adopted in 2015; and all Member States had to transpose its rules by 26th June 2017.
CRYPTOCURRENCY THEFTS AND SCAMS HIT $1.7 BILLION IN 2018
KYC 360 on 30th January reported that cryptocurrencies stolen from exchanges and scammed from investors surged more than 400% in 2018 to around $1.7 billion, according to a report from US-based cyber security firm CipherTrace.
MONGOLIA PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER OUSTED AMID CORRUPTION SCANDAL
Reuters on 30th January reported that Mongolia’s parliamentary speaker, Enkhbold Myegombo, has been ousted following weeks of public protests against him over accusations he was involved in the corrupt sale of government positions.
US REPORT CLAIMS CHINA BRIBING PACIFIC NATIONS
Radio New Zealand on 30th January reported that a new US intelligence report accuses China of aligning itself with Pacific Island nations through bribery, investments and greater engagement while it pursues the construction of military and other facilities in the region.